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Annual Report 2020-21

The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) tables an annual report each year in the Parliament of South Australia. Each annual report outlines financial performance, key initiatives for the department and support of whole-of-government initiatives.

Annual Report 2020-21 Print version (PDF, 18MB)

To:

The Honourable Vickie Chapman MP

Deputy Premier

Attorney-General

Minister for Planning and Local Government

This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of Public Sector Act 2009, Architectural Practice Act 2009, Associations Incorporation Act 1985, Authorised Betting Operations Act 2000, Building Work Contractors Act 1995, Casino Act 1997, Commissioner for Kangaroo Island Act 2014, Companies (Administration) Act 1982, Conveyancers Act 1994, Co-operatives National Law (South Australia) Act 2013, Fair Trading Act 1987, Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017, Gaming Machines Act 1992, Land Agents Act 1994, Land Valuers Act 1995, Liquor Licensing Act 1997, Outback Communities (Administration and Management) Act 2009, Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, Plumbers, Gas fitters and Electricians Act 1995, Residential Parks Act 2007, Residential Tenancies Act 1995, Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995, Security and Investigation Industry Act 1995, South Australian Local Government Grants Commission Act 1992, West Beach Recreation Reserve Act 1987 and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.

This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia. 

    

Submitted on behalf of the ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT by:

Caroline Mealor, Chief Executive 

30 September 2021  


From the Chief Executive 

It has been another challenging year for many South Australians, and the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) has not been immune from the difficulties presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet despite these challenges, AGD has continued to provide high quality services to both Government and the people of South Australia, adapting to the changing environment and ensuring our services are provided in a timely, efficient and professional manner.

As with the previous year, this agency has played a pivotal role in the Government’s ongoing response to COVID-19, with the Crown Solicitor’s Office, Parliamentary Counsel and Legislative Services providing advice and support on ongoing measures to protect South Australians through directions enacted by the State Coordinator and laws enacted by Parliament. In addition, Consumer and Business Services continued to support liquor licence holders and the Small Business Commissioner advocated on behalf of those small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

As the state’s largest employer of the legal profession, this agency also watched with great interest as the then Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity reviewed the workplace culture within the legal profession, making recommendations aimed at delivering a fairer, more inclusive workplace free of discrimination and sexual harassment or abuse.

Given the processes and policies already in place within the public sector, AGD was well-advanced in providing avenues for staff to report concerns about sexual harassment or discrimination. However, there is still work to be done, and we are committed to addressing those findings and recommendations that impact our staff.

The commitment of AGD to helping the most vulnerable in our community has continued. The Public Trustee and the Office of the Public Advocate have strengthened efforts to work collaboratively in relation to shared clients, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Victims of Crime SA have worked to assist victims to navigate the justice system, despite the uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Our agency has worked tirelessly to progress numerous reforms – including many aimed at strengthening our criminal justice system and better protecting victims of domestic and family violence, including changes to South Australia’s sentencing discount laws to ensure the scheme is more in line with community expectations while still achieving its goals, and the abolition of provocation laws in line with recommendations of the South Australian Law Reform Institute.

This year we also welcomed the staff of Planning and Land Use Services, the Office of Local Government, the Office of the Valuer-General and the Office of the Registrar-General to the department, with the Attorney-General taking on the Planning and Local Government portfolios. We have helped facilitate the passage of long-gestating reforms to the laws governing our state’s councils and will be working to implement those progressively.

2020-21 also heralded the final phase of reforms to the Planning and Design Code that have helped streamline the application and assessment process and improve certainty and consistency around decision-making. Both reforms are significant and represent many years of hard work and commitment by those involved.

Through Consumer and Business Services, we have ushered in greater transparency in petrol pricing by introducing a trial of real time petrol price monitoring. The scheme gives all South Australians access to accurate, up-to-date information about petrol prices to help them find the cheapest price at the bowser.

During the past financial year, and beyond, we have farewelled the Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit which moved to the Department of Treasury and Finance and a number of senior staff who moved on to other positions.

It was with equal amounts of pride and sadness that we said farewell to the Crown Solicitor, Laura Stein, who has been appointed to the Supreme Court. She has made a tremendous contribution to the Crown Solicitor’s Office over some 20 years – both in terms of her legal work, and her work on reform on the structure and processes within the office itself.

It was also with great sadness that we saw the early retirement of Zero, the state’s inaugural canine court companion, due to ill health. For those unfamiliar with Zero, he has been a welcome presence – not just within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions but in both the GPO Exchange Building and more recently, our courtrooms. As a court companion, he has helped provide support to vulnerable witnesses and victims. As an AGD staff member, Zero had become something of an unofficial mascot for AGD. His absence has been felt throughout the entire building.

On a more positive note, it was incredibly pleasing to welcome Dr Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM as the new Director of Forensic Science SA. Her work at both a state and national level in law enforcement will be a tremendous asset to the team. It’s also worth noting that she will be the first woman to lead Forensic Science SA in its history, which is significant in and of itself. She replaces Professor Chris Pearman, whose calm, authoritative presence will be missed as he enjoys replacing forensic pathology with the considerably less grisly world of retirement.

Looking ahead, there are still a number of reforms being progressed and considerable work to be done, including work on coercive control laws and other initiatives to address domestic violence, privacy laws, and consultation on a number of Planning Code amendments currently underway.

As always, none of this work would be possible without the efforts of the department’s Executive Management Group and their staff, and I thank them for their efforts over the past year, under circumstances that have sometimes been less than ideal. I am constantly struck by the level of support I receive across AGD. It continues to be an extraordinary privilege to be the Chief Executive of the Attorney-General’s Department and to work with the Attorney-General, the Honourable Vickie Chapman and her staff.



Caroline Mealor

Chief Executive 

Attorney-General’s Department 

Overview: about the agency

Our strategic focus

The 2018-21 Strategic Plan was finalised prior to Planning and Local Government shifting to AGD. A new Strategic Plan will be developed in 2021-22.

Our organisational structure

Changes to the agency

During 2020-21, Planning and Land Use Services, the Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of the Valuer-General transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

The Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit (FERU) transferred from the Attorney-General’s Department to the Department of Treasury and Finance as of 1 July 2021. 

Annual Reporting

The following areas of AGD submit their own annual reports:

•    Commissioner for Victims’ Rights

•    Commissioner for Equal Opportunity

•    Director of Public Prosecutions

•    Ombudsman

•    Public Advocate

•    Public Trustee

•    Small Business Commissioner

•    South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

•    State Planning Commission

•    State Records SA 

Other agencies reporting to the Deputy Premier and Attorney-General, the Hon Vickie Chapman MP, that submit their own annual report, are:

•    Courts Administration Authority

•    Electoral Commissioner

•    Independent Commissioner Against Corruption

•    Judicial Conduct Commissioner

•    Legal Services Commission

•    Local Government Grants Commission

•    Outback Communities Authority

Our Minister

The Hon Vickie Chapman MP, Deputy Premier and Attorney-General is the state’s principal legal advisor to the government and is responsible for the administration of justice. 

The Attorney-General is a member of Cabinet and is responsible for:

•    specific legislation and the state's legal system

•    developing and implementing policy

•    legal action relevant to the state government.

On 29 July 2020, the Attorney-General also became responsible for the Planning and Local Government Ministerial Portfolio. 

Key Personnel

Mike Wait SC

Mike is the Solicitor-General which is a statutory officer appointed by the Governor under the Solicitor-General Act 1972. The Solicitor-General is the second law officer of the state. Acting on the instructions of the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General advises the state and appears as counsel on behalf of the state, including on behalf of the Crown Solicitor and the Director of Public Prosecutions, as required. Mike was appointed the Solicitor-General, commencing 3 August 2020.

Laura Stein

Laura was appointed the Crown Solicitor, commencing 3 August 2020. The Crown Solicitor of South Australia is responsible for leading the Crown Solicitor’s Office (CSO), which comprises the Public Law, Civil Litigation, Crown Counsel, Commercial, Environment & Native Title and Business Services sections. The CSO provides advice to, and represents, the South Australian Government on behalf of the Attorney-General. This includes providing legal services to Cabinet, Ministers and South Australian Government agencies on a wide variety of legal issues.

Laura was appointed a Supreme Court Justice commencing 6 September 2021.

Adam Kilvert

Adam is the Executive Director for the Policy and Community division, which includes Justice Policy and Analytics and Strategic Communications, which provide advice and support to the Attorney-General and the broader department. The division also consists of the offices of the Ombudsman, Public Advocate, Public Trustee, the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Small Business Commissioner and the Commissioner for Victims' Rights, which aim to protect the rights of the public. 

Andrew Swanson

Andrew is the Executive Director of the Finance, People and Performance division. He is the Chief Financial Officer and responsible for leading a range of functions including Financial Services, Human Resources, Facilities, Performance and Business Services and State Records SA. The division also includes the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

Dini Soulio

Dini is the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and Liquor and Gambling within Consumer and Business Services (CBS). CBS has a broad portfolio including consumer protection, product safety, occupational licensing, liquor licensing, gambling regulation, charities regulation, residential tenancies, births, deaths and marriages and Justice of the Peace services.

Joanna Martin

Joanna is the Executive Director of the Legal and Legislative Services division. The division includes Legislative Services, who provide legal and policy advice on legislative reform and Parliamentary Counsel, who provide legislative drafting services to members of South Australia's Parliament. The division also consists of the CSO, Forensic Science SA (FSSA), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the Valuer-General (an independent statutory officer who maintains accountability and ownership over the valuation roll) and the Registrar-General (who provides oversight to the operations of the Land Titles Office by Land Services SA).

John Ovenstone

John is the Chief Recovery Officer and Director, Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit (Fines Unit). The Fines Unit is responsible for the enforcement and recovery of court fines, overdue expiation fees, debts owed to the Victims of Crime Fund and civil debt owed to state government agencies. In addition to the recovery of debts, the Fines Unit provides a range of non-financial options for individuals to resolve outstanding fines such as community service.

Dr Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM 

Linzi is a forensic scientist who took up the position of Director, FSSA in February 2021. FSSA provides independent scientific and pathology services to the justice system of South Australia in the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, Pathology and Toxicology. FSSA collaborates closely with the tertiary sector, in particular the three local universities, to ensure it maintains a high quality and contemporary scientific service through research, training and teaching.

Mark Hanson

Mark is the Executive Director of the Projects and Technology division. He is responsible for leading Technology, Project Delivery, Public Safety and Information Management services. In addition to supporting the operations of the AGD, the division provides Public Safety and Justice Information services to more than twenty other Government agencies.

Martin Hinton QC

Martin is the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is a statutory officer, independent of the Attorney-General’s Department, who initiates and conducts criminal prosecutions in the Magistrates, District and Supreme courts of South Australia. The Director also initiates, and conducts appeals in the Full Court of South Australia and the High Court of South Australia. The Director oversees the operations of the Office of the Director for Public Prosecutions (ODPP) comprising Trial Counsel, Solicitors (including Confiscations), and Business Services (including the Witness Assistance Service) to ensure the ODPP provides the people of South Australia with an independent and effective criminal prosecution service that is timely, efficient and just.

Nicolle Rantanen

Nicolle is the Public Trustee and is responsible for the efficient management of the Public Trustee Office and the effective implementation of the Public Trustee Act 1995. The role encompasses acting as Administrator, Executor or Trustee of deceased estates, as Administrator of estates of protected persons under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1993, as Manager of estates of protected persons under the Aged and Infirm Persons’ Property Act 1940 and as Attorney or Agent. The Public Trustee is also the Trustee for minors as a result of distributions in intestate estates administered by private administrators and by appointment as trustees for other trusts and Wills.

Sally Smith

Sally is the Executive Director of Planning and Land Use Services and the Office for Local Government. The role is responsible for managing the planning and land use system for South Australia. This includes planning and development, architecture, design and land use to grow our economy and create more vibrant places for our communities.

Legislation administered by the agency 

Action for Breach of Promise of Marriage (Abolition) Act 1971

Acts Interpretation Act 1915 

Adelaide Cemeteries Authority Act 2001

Adelaide Children's Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital (Testamentary Dispositions) Act 1990

Adelaide Park Lands Act 2005

Adelaide Show Grounds (Regulations and By-Laws) Act 1929

Administration and Probate Act 1919 

Administrative Arrangements Act 1994 

Administrative Decisions (Effect of International Instruments) Act 1995

Age of Majority (Reduction) Act 1971 

Aged and Infirm Persons' Property Act 1940 

Aircraft Offences Act 1971 

ANZ Executors and Trustee Company (South Australia) Limited (Transfer of Business) Act 1996

Architectural Practice Act 2009

Associations Incorporation Act 1985 

Australia Acts (Request) Act 1985 

Australian Crime Commission (South Australia) Act 2004

Authorised Betting Operations Act 2000 

Bail Act 1985 

Ballot Act 1862 

Bills of Sale Act 1886

Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 

Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009

Building Work Contractors Act 1995 

Burial and Cremation Act 2013 

Business Names (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2012 

Casino Act 1997

Character Preservation (Barossa Valley) Act 2012 

Character Preservation (McLaren Vale) Act 2012  

Child Sex Offenders Registration Act 2006

City of Adelaide Act 1998 

Civil Liability Act 1936 

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995

Collections for Charitable Purposes Act 1939 

Commercial Arbitration Act 2011

Commissioner for Kangaroo Island Act 2014  

Commonwealth Legislative Power Act 1931*

Commonwealth Places (Administration of Laws) Act 1970

Commonwealth Powers (De Facto Relationships) Act 2009

Commonwealth Powers (Family Law) Act 1986 

Community Titles Act 1996

Companies (Administration) Act 1982 

Constitutional Powers (Coastal Waters) Act 1979 

Conveyancers Act 1994 

Co-operatives National Law (South Australia) Act 2013

Coroners Act 2003 

Corporations (Administrative Actions) Act 2001 

Corporations (Ancillary Provisions) Act 2001 

Corporations (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2001 

Corporations (South Australia) Act 1990 

Courts Administration Act 1993 

COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 

Credit (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2010 

Credit (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2010 

Criminal Assets Confiscation Act 2005 

Criminal Investigation (Covert Operations) Act 2009 

Criminal Investigation (Extraterritorial Offences) Act 1984

Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007

Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Act 2007 

Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act 2015 

Criminal Law (Legal Representation) Act 2001 

Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 

Criminal Procedure Act 1921 

Cross-border Justice Act 2009 

Crown Proceedings Act 1992 

Da Costa Samaritan Fund (Incorporation of Trustees) Act 1953

Death (Definition) Act 1983 

Debtors Act 1936 

Defamation Act 2005 

Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1991 

District Court Act 1991 

Domestic Partners Property Act 1996 

Domicile Act 1980 

Dust Diseases Act 2005 

Election of Senators Act 1903 

Electoral Act 1985 

Electronic Conveyancing National Law (South Australia) Act 2013

Electronic Communications Act 2000 

Encroachments Act 1944 

Enforcement of Judgments Act 1991 

Environment, Resources and Development Court Act 1993

Equal Opportunity Act 1984 

Essential Services Act 1981 

Estates Tail Act 1881 (The) 

Evidence (Affidavits) Act 1928 

Evidence Act 1929 

Expiation of Offences Act 1996 

Fair Trading Act 1987 

Family Relationships Act 1975 

Farm Debt Mediation Act 2018 

Federal Courts (State Jurisdiction) Act 1999 

Fences Act 1975 

Financial Sector Reform (South Australia) Act 1999 

Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017 

Foreign Judgments Act 1971 

Free Presbyterian Church (Vesting of Property) Act 2001

Freedom of Information Act 1991 

Frustrated Contracts Act 1988 

Gambling Administration Act 2019 

Gaming Machines Act 1992 

Geographical Names Act 1991

Graffiti Control Act 2001 

Guardianship and Administration Act 1993 

Guardianship of Infants Act 1940 

Hairdressers Act 1988 

Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012

Industrial Referral Agreements Act 1986 

Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972 

Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 

James Brown Memorial Trust Incorporation Act 1990 

Judicial Administration (Auxiliary Appointments and Powers) Act 1988

Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act 2015 

Juries Act 1927 

Jurisdiction of Courts (Cross-vesting) Act 1987 

Justices of the Peace Act 2005 

Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 

Land Acquisition Act 1969 

Land Agents Act 1994 

Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994 

Land Valuers Act 1994 

Landlord and Tenant Act 1936 

Law of Property Act 1936

Law Reform (Contributory Negligence and Apportionment of Liability) Act 2001

Legal Practitioners Act 1981 

Legal Services Commission Act 1977 

Legislation Revision and Publication Act 2002 

Limitation of Actions Act 1936

Linear Parks Act 2006  

Liquor Licensing Act 1997 

Little Sisters of the Poor (Testamentary Dispositions) Act 1986

Lobbyists Act 2015

Local Government Act 1999

Local Government (Elections) Act 1999

Local Government (Implementation) Act 1999

Lottery and Gaming Act 1936 

Magistrates Act 1983 

Magistrates Court Act 1991 

Marketable Securities Act 1971 

Married Persons (Separate Legal Status) Act 2019 

Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act 1983

Mercantile Law Act 1936 

Minors Contracts (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1979

Misrepresentation Act 1972 

National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2018

Native Title (South Australia) Act 1994 

Notaries Public Act 2016 

Oaths Act 1936 

Off-shore Waters (Application of Laws) Act 1976 

Ombudsman Act 1972

Outback Communities (Administration and Management) Act 2009

Parliamentary Committees Act 1991 

Partnership Act 1891 

Personal Property Securities (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2009

Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016

Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995 

Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016 

Powers of Attorney and Agency Act 1984 

Prices Act 1948

Private Parking Areas Act 1986

Problem Gambling Family Protection Orders Act 2004

Professional Standards Act 2004 

Prohibited Areas (Application of State Laws) Act 1952

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 

Public Trustee Act 1995 

Racial Vilification Act 1996 

Real Property Act 1886

Real Property (Commonwealth Titles) Act 1924 

Real Property (Foreign Governments) Act 1950 

Real Property (Registration of Titles) Act 1945

Recreation Grounds (Regulations) Act 1931 

Registration of Deeds Act 1935

Relationships Register Act 2016 

Residential Parks Act 2007 

Residential Tenancies Act 1995 

Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995 

Roads (Opening and Closing) Act 1991

Royal Commissions Act 1917 

Royal Style and Titles Act 1973 

RSL Memorial Hall Trust Act 1997*

Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act 1986 

Sale of Goods Act 1895 

Sea-Carriage Documents Act 1998 

Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995 

Security and Investigation Industry Act 1995 

Sentencing Act 2017 

Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008 

Serious and Organised Crime (Unexplained Wealth) Act 2009

Settled Estates Act 1880 

Settled Estates Act Amendment Act 1889 (The) 

Sheriff's Act 1978 

Shop Theft (Alternative Enforcement) Act 2000 

Small Business Commissioner Act 2011 

Solicitor-General Act 1972 

South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013

South Australian Local Government Grants Commission Act 1992

Spent Convictions Act 2009 

St. John (Discharge of Trusts) Act 1997 

State Records Act 1997 

Stock Mortgages and Wool Liens Act 1924

Strata Titles Act 1988

Subordinate Legislation Act 1978 

Summary Offences Act 1953 

Supreme Court Act 1935 

Surrogacy Act 2019 

Surveillance Devices Act 2016 

Survey Act 1992

Survival of Causes of Action Act 1940 

Tattooing Industry Control Act 2015 

Terrorism (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2002 

Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2005 

Terrorism (Preventative Detention) Act 2005 

Thomas Hutchinson Trust and related Trusts (Winding Up) Act 1995

Trustee Act 1936 

Trustee Companies Act 1988 

Unclaimed Goods Act 1987 

Valuation of Land Act 1971

Victims of Crime Act 2001 

Waite Trust (Miscellaneous Variations) Act 1996*

Warehouse Liens and Storage Act 1990

West Beach Recreation Reserve Act 1987  

Wills Act 1936 

Worker's Liens Act 1893

Young Offenders Act 1993 

Youth Court Act 1993 

* Denotes Act of limited application